Vol XI, No. 65 TNG/CWA Local 31041 October 11, 2000



Give to the United Way.

Just don't do so through the Journal Company's annual campaign.

That was the policy decided yesterday by the Guild membership at the union's fall meeting.

The session - at which union offices were packed by members also there to hear U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy - recommended a new approach to the United Way in light of the company's strong-arm negotiating tactics.

Instead of pledging money to the charity fund through Journal payroll deductions, the membership recommended that Guild members channel their donations through the Guild, or that they send money directly to the United Way.

The policy proposal came through a spontaneous motion from the floor.

Several members said they were offended by the Journal Company's United Way Year 2000 solicitation, in which donor forms have been distributed throughout the workplace, along with "Dear Fellow Employee" letters from Howard G. Sutton, publisher.

One member said that the company, in a year in which it has attacked the union and its members, should not get the credit for encouraging Guild-member donations. And another said the company's solicitation is all the more bothersome because the company has yet to agree to give Guild members a pay raise, yet it is encouraging union members to part with their money.

Union members noted that they did not want to see the United Way suffer, and urged Guild employees to continue to contribute - but in a way that the Journal will not be able to boast about its "good corporate citizenship."

The Guild will communicate its policy to United Way and AFL-CIO officials, letting them know that its members support the charity drive, but not the company that is trying to break the union while dunning its members for contributions.


U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy said yesterday that The Providence Journal Co. and Texas-based A. H. Belo Corp. have launched an "organized assault" against the Guild, but they fail to realize that anti-union tactics won't work in Rhode Island.

Kennedy said he found the corporate leaders "dismissive" of the union's position when he talked to both Belo chairman Robert W. Decherd and Journal publisher Howard G. Sutton earlier in the year.

"We have to communicate that this is Rhode Island - that you don't do this in Rhode Island," Kennedy said of the Belo and Journal tactics
against the Guild in what are now year-long negotiations for a new contract.

The First District congressman spoke to a standing-room-only crowd at the fall meeting of the Guild's membership in the union's offices at 270 Westminster St. in downtown Providence.

A key to the Guild's ability to successfully conclude negotiations will be to show management that it has to contend not only with the 500-member Guild, but the state's labor movement and political establishment, the congressman said.

Before the meeting, Kennedy said he was aware of the Guild's plan to call for a circulation boycott, beginning the drive by working with the 80,000-member AFL-CIO.

In his six years in Congress, the son of U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy said that he has learned a lot about labor-management relations, and that he believes that the company is attempting a "classic" ploy in the current negotiations.

By giving non-union members benefits not being offered the Guild, management hopes to "set-up" the Guild, then undermine other unions and employees later down the road, Kennedy said.

Kennedy said he first talked with Decherd, the Belo chief.
"I made the point that Belo people need to understand this is a different environment" and they can't extend their normal non-union programs here, he said. Decherd maintained that local managers are directing the negotiations, he said, and suggested Kennedy talk to publisher Sutton.

Sutton contended that the company hadn't had problems negotiating with other unions, and that the company had made "good proposals" to the Guild, which turned them down, Kennedy said.

Kennedy said that the company's approach to negotiations appear to him to be carefully crafted.

"It's too deliberate for them to say it's accidental, or a misunderstanding," he said. "This clearly is an organized assault on your union," Kennedy said. What management doesn't understand is that "the rest of The Journal is on your side and there is broader labor movement support and political support beyond that."

Kennedy said he stood ready to help the Guild in any way he could, including having further conversations with Decherd.

At the end of the meeting, Tim Schick, Guild administrator, noted that unions often have to approach politicians when they need help, but in Kennedy's case, he came to the Guild to ask what he could do on the union's behalf.

Schick then presented Kennedy with a black-and-green "We are the union" T-shirt. Kennedy grinned and obligingly accepted, even though he joked that that he has a "drawer-full" of such garments.

"We are very excited and honored to be recognizing Howard Sutton and The Providence Journal for the tremendous commitment they have made to promoting volunteerism throughout the community.''

That's the Volunteer Center of Rhode Island talking.

The Guild knows another side of the story:

That the Journal Company is trying to make virtual "volunteers" of its own workers. No raise in nearly two years. One less holiday. Inferior medical benefits. Less generous pension benefits. Delayed vacations. Break their union.

The Journal thinks charity begins at the office.

So when the VCRI honors Sutton with its 2000 Award for Outstanding Commitment to Volunteerism, the Guild will be there.

We'll be handing out leaflets, filling in attendees on the less-generous, union-busting, profit-driven spirit of the Journal Company.
All Guild members are invited to join in.

TIME: 5 p.m.
DATE: Friday, Oct. 13
PLACE: Westin Hotel

Copyright © 2000 The Providence Newspaper Guild
TNG/CWA Local 31041
270 Westmister St., Providence, Rhode Island 02903
401-421-9466 | Fax: 401-421-9495